Hoey lurking in Morocco

Michael Hoey slipped up at the finish but is still just one stroke behind Denmark’s Mark Haastrup in the Challenge Tour's Banque Populaire Moroccan Classic.

Despite a couple of late bogeys, the Ulsterman hit a two under par 70 to get to seven under par and share second place with Holland’s Wil Besseling and overnight leader Greig Hutcheon of Scotland at halfway.

Stephen Browne is five adrift on three under after a 70 but Colm Moriarty (78) and Peter O'Keeffe (79) missed the cut.

Haastrup shot a flawless four under par 68 to move clear at the top, carding four birdies in the first 11 holes to take the lead on eight under par.

The 24 year old Dane, who finished joint runner up behind Besseling at the II Club Colombia Masters last month, said he hoped to go one better at El Jadida Sofitel Golf Resort in Morocco after matching his first round score of 68.

He said: “I went out hoping not to make any bogeys and I putted really well today and played really well. I had one bad shot but managed to get up and down without being punished.

“I am going to try my best over the next two days and see what happens.  I only made one bogey on the last hole yesterday so I’m playing well. It’s been really steady so far and I’m hitting the ball in the right places so I’m looking forward to the next two days.”

Aberdeen player Hutcheon was unable to make much progress on the greens at El Jadida Sofitel Golf Resort in Morocco, carding two birdies and two bogeys for a level par round of 72.

He said: “I didn’t lose any shots but I didn’t putt anything today. I played reasonably well again but I was trying to force putts into the hole.

“I had some chances today but I was unable to take them, despite playing well. The wind is getting up though and the course is quite tricky today.”

Besseling shot a two under par 70 in an eventful round that included an eagle on the tenth hole, as well as four birdies and four bogeys.

After securing his first Challenge Tour win of the season with victory in the II Club Colombia Masters last month, Besseling said he was happy to be challenging at the top of the leaderboard once again.

He said: “I was five under after 10 holes but unfortunately I made some bogeys and some mistakes. But I played well today and I’m happy. The win in Colombia has given me confidence and it is good to be in contention again.”

The biggest mover of the day was England’s Richard McEvoy, who played himself right back into contention with a course record equalling 65 to move to four under par. McEvoy, who is looking to return to The European Tour after losing his card last year, had been way down the leaderboard after carding an opening round 75 but came back in style to shoot an eagle and six birdies in a stunning round that contained just one bogey.

His seven under par 65 matched Hutcheon’s first round course record and means he is ideally placed to better his highest finish so far this season, tied ninth in the II Club Colombia Masters.

He said: “It went really well today after yesterday which was not very good at all. I felt completely different today. My swing was much better and I felt in control of the ball.

“Yesterday I got off to a poor start and had an up and down round. We got the best of the greens this morning and I’m right back in contention now. I’ve made all four cuts so far this season but I’ve not really been up there yet.”